E.ON struggles to make German gas-fired plants profitable

Germany's largest utility, E.ON SE, is asking federal regulators for support for its gas-fired power plants. The Irsching 4 and Irsching 5 plants are struggling to turn a profit as a weak economy dampens demand, coal remians cheaper, and new renewable energy requirements undercut natural gas, Bloomberg reported.

Niether the 550 MW Irsching 4 nor 845 MW Irsching 5 plants have been open for more than three years. Yet, just this December E.ON said it wanted "economic compensation" for owners of  Irsching 5 plant, which only operated a quarter of the time in 2012.

"Irsching 4 is facing similar problems as Irsching 5 and we're looking for a similar solution," said Christian Drepper, a spokesman at EON.

The Irsching 4 plant is operating efficiently, EON officials said, but it still cannot make a profit.

"Even state-of-the-art, gas-fired power plants cannot be operated profitably," said Daniel Seidenspinner, an analyst at B. Metzler Seel Sohn & Co. KGaA. "That confirms how much renewable energies affect the profitability of conventional power plants. The runtime of the power plants declines and also the wholesale prices for electricity."

Germany's power outlook is explored at PennEnergy's research area.

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